Published: Sat, January 06, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Senators Refer Dossier Author to DOJ in Criminal Referral

Senators Refer Dossier Author to DOJ in Criminal Referral

Two senior Republican senators have urged the Justice Department to open an investigation into Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a dossier of allegations about Donald Trump and Russian Federation during the 2016 campaign.

Grassley and Graham, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committtee, have accused Steele of making false statements to the U.S. government about the "distribution" of the document's claims.

The criminal referral is an escalation by Republicans struggling over the credibility of the dossier written by Steele about President Donald Trump and Russia -- and by extension the FBI and special counsel investigations into possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump team. On Friday, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said the department had received the referral and will review it.

Although several news organizations, including Reuters, were briefed on Steele's dossier before the November 2016 election, most decided not to report on the material because its inflammatory and sometimes salacious content could not be verified. Trump has called the dossier "phony" and derided it as a politically motivated hit job, and many Republicans in Congress have been focused on discrediting it.

"We don't believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling", they wrote. "The FBI doesn't need any prompting from politicians to prosecute people who have lied to them", Zeidenberg says.

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Four individuals, including three former campaign officials, have so far been indicted as part of an ongoing criminal federal investigation into whether or not Trump officials conspired with the Kremlin, including Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Graham, Grassley and some other Republicans have used official resources to investigate the Steele dossier, Trump critics and officials working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Mueller.

"The rule of law depends on the government and all who work on its behalf playing by the rules themselves", Graham said in a statement. "But, as I would with any credible evidence of a crime unearthed in the course of our investigations, I feel obliged to pass that information along to the Justice Department for appropriate review", Grassley said in a statement.

On Friday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of CT, a Democrat on the Judiciary committee, called the move a partisan effort "aimed at someone who reported wrongdoing, rather than committed it".

"I wasn't consulted about this referral nor were any of my Democratic colleagues", Feinstein said in a statement. Leon said the subpoena could "reasonably produce information relevant" to the committee's inquiry.

The dossier, which began as an opposition research effort and became publicly known in early 2017, details Russian interference in the 2016 election and includes allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Trump. They had no immediate comment on the request. "We should all be skeptical in the extreme".

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